New Owner (maybe)

Discussion in 'P-3AT' started by downhill, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. downhill

    downhill New Member

    Jul 2, 2008
    Hi Guys,
    I'm considering buying a Kel Tec 380 and I've been reading this forum with great interest. I do a good bit of smithing work and custom component building on other types of guns. What I've gathered from the discussions is that these guns are well designed and use good materials but suffer from poor quality control. It sounds like nearly all the problems can be eliminated by simply cleaning up the details in the mechanism. Actually I've found similar issues with much more expensive guns so this sounds like a worthy project gun. Does that sound right?

    I definitely want a laser for mine, and I'm wondering what you think of the 2 options? Are either reliable?

  2. BillK

    BillK New Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    Hi Dave,

    Welcome to KTOG!

    From my experience you're half right. My first P3AT was a problem child (but fine now) and my second has been flawless.

    Buy the gun. On the outside chance you get one with a problem, especially considering your smithing knowledge, you'd have it up and running in pretty short order.

    Can't help with the lasers except to say that from what I read here at KTOG there are fans of both.

    Take care...

  3. JFB

    JFB New Member

    Jul 25, 2005
    You need to look at one........

    What is getting blamed as quaility is the fact the design needs to be clean and lubed to function reliably. The fit and finish are what one should expect from a $200 pocket gun, especially the blued

    the exception to the $ 200fit and fisnish maybe the hard chrome (they look good). The parks are parks. If you are aware what a park finish is they are just that
  4. Hey Downhill- Glad you stopped in.

    Concerning the "quality control" of the 3AT... not sure I would say it is bad... but some of the guns need a little TLC to get up and running.

    My first one sure needed some help.  I was not, and am not, a smith.... but since that first 3AT my kitchen table has seen almost all of my guns completely stripped.  Springs replaced, screws cleaned up, sights swapped out, upgraded goodies etc....

    It all started with the FLUFF and BUFF of that 1st. Kel-Tec.


    Now I have 4 Kel-Tecs now that all are 100% reliable.


    I now consider my self a TINKER!

    So yeah-------  the 3AT is a worthy gun that may need some help.

    Concerning the laser-

    I have the CTC on one of mine, and I love it.

    Here is the link to my report on the CTC for the 3AT:
  5. norton

    norton New Member

    Jan 25, 2008
    The P3At is a great little gun. Mine now has a total of 600 rounds through it.
    Problems stopped after I figured out that a dab-o-grease on top of the hammer
    was needed. The more I shot it the fewer the problems. In the last 200 rounds I had 1 FTF. The last 150 none.

    Laser? Some say potatoe others say potahtoe... I like the CT laser because of it's styling and it's button. This has been on my pistol since shot #1. You control on/off. In my world I see advantages. There is a "halo" around the laser which I found to be annoying. The CT rep at the shot show said that was to be changed & they would swap out at no charge.

    That's my 2 cents.
  6. downhill

    downhill New Member

    Jul 2, 2008
    Thanks for the info and the welcome guys. Yep I understand the $200 gun thing. I'll take a look locally and see what is available. Actually, the process sounds like fun. It kind of reminds of my volkswagan beetle days, years ago, LOL. I have access to a lot of things like a machine shop, waterjet cutting and small molding capability so maybe I can even come up with some cool upgrades or fixes if need be.

    One thing I can think of is the grease used on the hammer/slide contact. I have a grease formula that I mix myself. I have some of the teflon powder that is used in grease and oil formulas. I also have a special grease formula that is made for highspeed gear and bearing applications where oil bath lubing is not possible. The stuff is extremely tenatious on the surface. I've mixed the two to make my own home brew that works well on just that sort of thing. The stuff doesn't migrate or melt away like most grease.

    Does anyone know if the arma laser can be switched off, or does it always light when the gun is fired? That's a nice feature but the ability to just turn it off would be nice too. Is there any way it can come on while being carried and run the batteries down?

  7. downhill

    downhill New Member

    Jul 2, 2008
    I just read your CT evaluation, thanks! Man that is a small gun for your hands! I like the looks of the OD color gun. I got a kick out of the Tinkerers assoc too! It looks like I'm headed for membership myself.

  8. adamsesq

    adamsesq New Member

    Dec 25, 2006
    You've got good info here so far but I will say that, having had both I very much prefer the Arma Laser.   It will come on anytime you touch its sensitive strip which is on the weak hand side just outside the trigger guard and is usally triggered with the thumb of the weak hand when gripping the weapon.  It is automatic, you grab the weapon and ti works, much like the P3AT itself as you are not worrying about a switch, safeties or whatever.  Just grabbing the weapon makes sure it is on, and you don't get your hands out of position like the CT does for me.  If you are going to be range shooting, cleaning, storing or whatever so that you don't want it on there is a toggle switch on the underside that you can turn the unit off totally.

    A few other added benefits of the AL over the CT are longer battery life, clearer laser dot, normal grip (kind of mentioned that earlier), and its size very much helps to square up the gun and any related holster for less printing.  The later would be extremely important if you decide to carry without a holster (poor choice in my opinion but some do it) and still helpful but less important if you carry with a pocket holster as the holsters themselves tend to square up the shape.

    Finally, the squareness helps keep the weapon in the "right" spot in some other great carry choices like the holster (a must have even if you don't use it every day) and/or 5.11 shirts.


    HEY NAS - That looks like a great P40 kit there - I heard those were hard to come by? ;)
  9. Gunthr

    Gunthr New Member

    Oct 27, 2007
    I use the CT lazer. I think both CT and AL are quality products. The CT was "right on" out of the box and needed no windage or elevation adjustment. It installed in about 4 minutes. The mechanism feels secure on the gun. I'm sure the AL does too.

    I've found the lazer really helps my older eyes to quickly acquire the target. Your shot placement is important with the .380 so I figured it was money well spent. My groups are far tighter, and my confidence in my ability to hit with this gun when excited and in low light is now way up there.
  10. wheelguy

    wheelguy New Member

    May 4, 2007
    Here's another who has owned both CT and AL for the P3AT. I sent the CT back - primarily because of its touchy switch. It comes on by accident too often causing the battery to run to zero in short order. I love the CT on my 357 magnum though. They did the switch right on that one - maybe a future design will include the good switch on the P3AT version.

    On the other hand, the AL is optimized in just about every important aspect. Proven toughness (see "drop test" thread), big battery life, block outline, and instant on when you need it the most. It isn't perfect, though, since it reduces trigger finger space and has little control over laser "on" time.

  11. downhill

    downhill New Member

    Jul 2, 2008
    Well, I took the plunge. I bought a basic black/blued model P3AT, arma-laser, a couple of extended magazines, a trigger shoe, and a couple of mag extenders for the short magazines. This is the first time I have ever taken a close look at these guns, and my first impression is that this is much better quality than I expected. The machining, fit, finish, and basic function is darn good for what I would consider a cheap gun. I haven't fired it yet. I bought 200 rounds of Remington ball ammo to exercise it a bit and evaluate it's function. Then I'll tear it down and get to work. The laser and trigger shoe won't be here till next week, which is fine. This is going to be a real fun project gun and I'm already thinking that maybe I couuld use another!

    I'll start a new thread with photos to follow the clean up and modifications, and the final results, Thanks to everyone here for the info to get started!

  12. wheelguy

    wheelguy New Member

    May 4, 2007
    Congratulations - sounds like you got the whole package ;D. Most wouldn't advise the trigger shoe on this weapon - too easy to ND since it makes the trigger wider than it was designed to be.

    Before you shoot, take it apart first and clean/grease the sliding surfaces. After shooting 40-50 rounds, take the slide off and inspect the head of the spring guide rod. Those get worn on 1 side and should be filed smooth if it is raising a burr in that spot. Clean and grease it again - re-assembling the guid rod in exactly the same rotational orientation you found it in when you took it apart. Then, you should be good for the next 50 rounds before it'll want another cleaning.
  13. carmike442

    carmike442 New Member

    Sep 14, 2004
    Definately grind down the trigger shoe so it is no wider than the trigger guard.
  14. downhill

    downhill New Member

    Jul 2, 2008
    Thanks, I may or may not even use the shoe. Actually the trigger feels pretty good.

  15. TxCajun

    TxCajun Administrator Staff Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2004